One of the biggest challenges for any team is maintaining its supremacy from year to year. Tell that to the Colgate women’s lacrosse team, which is coming off a second consecutive Patriot League crown and will be the hunted team yet again this year. Nevertheless, the women picked up right where they left off last year with an 8-7 season-opening road victory over Stony Brook last weekend. The Raiders destroyed Stony Brook last year, 14-7, but Saturday’s match was much more competitive.
Colgate wasted little time taking control of the game, as the Raiders were able to find the back of the net four times within the first 12 minutes of the contest against the porous Stony Brook defense. Guiding the way was senior Katie McVeigh, the reigning Patriot League Offensive Player of the Year, who notched two goals, along with first-year Molly Carroll and sophomore Jessica Vander Muelen, who tallied a goal apiece.
Down but not out, Stony Brook battled back at the end of the first-half to cut the Raider lead in half, 4-2. Just as a champion should, Colgate dominated play on both ends of the field during the first half, totaling twice as many shot attempts as Stony Brook, holding an 18-15 advantage in groundballs and minimizing its fouls and turnovers when compared to the Sea Wolves.
If Colgate wanted to prevail, the team was going to have to earn it, because Stony Brook gave the Raiders all they could ask for in the second half. Momentum shifted quickly to the Sea Wolves, who opened the second period with two quick scores to tie the game at four. Allowing Stony Brook back into the game served as a wake-up call for the Raiders.
Thereafter, the tides shifted back and forth with each team’s offense clicking, but the Raider defense put the clamps on the Sea Wolves midway through the second-half. Meanwhile, a barrage of goals by first-year Maddie Kearns, senior co-captain Kelly Winning and junior Megan Janson finally put the game out of reach. Although the Raiders were out-shot and perhaps outhustled, they made the most of their scoring opportunities, converting on th ree-of-five free position shots in the second half. The defense, led by senior Heidi Ross, the 2005 Patriot League Defensive Player of the Year, and senior goalkeeper Sue Bielamowicz, made crucial stops late in the game to secure the victory.
With the victory, the Raiders are now unbeaten in season-openers under Head Coach Katrina Silva. In addition, the win moved Bielamowicz into second-place on Colgate’s career wins list with 37 in just over three seasons.
By returning 10 of 11 starters from last year’s title squad, most notably McVeigh, Ross, Bielamowicz and Winning, Colgate will undoubtedly be very difficult to dethrone. However, nothing is a given in this sport and the Raiders are well aware that they will have to work to earn a third consecutive league title. All the pieces to the puzzle are present; it’s simply a matter of execution and working together as a team.
Colgate will be poised to carry over its momentum tomorrow when the Raiders play their home opener against LaSalle University at Tyler’s Field at 1 p.m.